The makers of Disney/Marvel brand vitamins have paid over $2.1 million dollars in refunds because the products did not contain the nutrients on the labels. The products were manufactured by Rexall Sundown, which has been involved in a number of poor quality vitamins. (Full story here)

Moral of the story: there is always a reason why cheap vitamins are cheap. The supplement world can be very confusing. Competing claims, product testimonials, junk science, and marketing hype certainly clutter the landscape.  Despite thousands of studies to the contrary, many physicians still promote the outmoded idea a good diet is all you need to stay healthy. And when it comes to children who can be picky eaters, many Moms are just happy that the kids are taking something, and crossing their fingers that their children are getting what they need.  So, if the child will eat a vitamin based on cartoon, Mom will often get it for him.

As consumers, it’s in our own best interest to ask questions, and demand accountability from manufacturers. The problem for most consumers is that we don’t know which questions to ask!

Here are a few simple rules that will help you avoid the worst supplements. If you see any of this on the label- put it back on the shelf, and walk away (or close your browser).

1) If it’s made to look and taste like candy – it probably is candy. There is no nutritional need for sugar, fructose, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors and flavors in a food supplement. EVER.

2) No synthetics.  Synthetic vitamins are not live enzymes and your body doesn’t recognize synthetic vitamins as food when you ingest them.  Your body processes all synthetics, including pharmaceutical drugs, artificial flavorings and colors, as toxins.  You get zero nutritional value from synthetic vitamins.  In fact, you actually deplete nutrients when you take them! Don’t waste your money.

3) Be wary of multi-vitamins that contain herbs. Here’s why: the molecular structure and function of herbs, vitamins and minerals are very different from each other.  Calcium is bulky, and takes up most of the “space” in a tablet.  It is impossible to create a multivitamin with clinically significant active herbal ingredients because of tablet size and dosing.  Look carefully, you’ll find that if a manufacturer combined its multi-vitamin with herbal extracts, the herbal quantities are miniscule.

4) Is the company you are considering trying to reach too many markets? People may have unique targeted needs, but when it comes to the base line nutritional needs that a multi-vitamin provides, there is not all that much variation, especially among adults. I once went into a supplement store where the clerk boasted that the manufacturer had 4 different brand lines.  What that tells me is that the manufacturer was more interested in targeting price point and marketing demographics than health and science based supplements.  I walked out.

5) B vitamins in a multi or a B-vitamin product.  There are 8 B-vitamins and  “they all like to play together”.  Each B Vitamin is picked up by a different receptor site in your small intestine,  Too much of one, and not enough of the other, and the body will “dump” or pull B-vitamins from your tissue to bring balance.  Two specific things to look for in a quality multivitamin:
A- Biotin- should be 100% of the daily value
B- excessively high amounts of riboflavin and niacin.  These are cheap and are often used to pad the profile of a product without regard to nutritional need or effectiveness.

It is better to get the right brand for your family, than to use a poor quality supplement.

Recommended:   Shaklee Incredivites and Infant and Toddler Formula.  Learn more here: